Ever wonder what happens to your lost luggage that never gets returned to you? They go up for auction a la Storage Wars style! Haha… how awesome/weird is that? (Makes you double think some of the stuff you pack away, eh? ;))
I’ve actually never heard about this until I ran across a post by my friend over at Skint in The City: Buying up lost luggage. Her husband had lost a bag on a trip out to Dublin, and across her searches for how to claim it she stumbled across tons of auction sites that sell off all these poor bags site unseen (well, you can look at the outside of them but you can’t poke around on the inside). Meaning if you know there’s some expensive designer bags on the lot, chances are they’ll be nicer stuff on the inside and thus some treasure to be found :) Or of course it can be totally empty or have random ass things like rattle snakes or shrunken heads in it (true stories).
Actually, check out that video there at the top if you haven’t already as it showcases a ton of crazy stuff found in some of these bags over the years. Including huge diamond rings and even ancient artifacts – it’s pretty wild. And that’s only from ONE of these places that sell the bags!
In fact, these guys – The Unclaimed Baggage Center, in Scottsboro Alabama – took it a step further and opened up an entire shopping warehouse full of stuff found in all these lost bags over 40 years ago. Instead of auctioning them all off like other places do – especially in Europe and the UK it seems – they have contracts with tons of major airlines here in the States and buy all these bags in bulk to then sell all the contents as bargains to customers from all over. You can read more about their story here, it’s pretty interesting. And apparently this center is now a tourist attraction! Which I’ll have to now add to my “must see” list one day :)
If you live out in the UK, here are some auction houses that sell these bags:
- Hertfordshire Auctions
- Bristol Auction House
I couldn’t find any good ones in the US through my searching, other than the Unclaimed Baggage Center (which doesn’t do the auction thing – only sells the insides as I mentioned) and the Miami airport’s one being shut down, but I did come across a TV series that follow a few guys that do this stuff called Baggage Wars. Looks like it’s still an active show too through the Travel Channel I’ll have to check out. Also found this thread on an auction forum that was kinda interesting to read.
Guess I won’t be able to participate in these baggage biddings anytime soon, unless one of you want to fly me out to your place in London? :), but it was a fascinating (and smart!) thing to come across yesterday. Big thanks to Skint in The City again for writing about it – got me all excited for a hot minute! Totally something I’d do in a heartbeat if readily available… From that forum it looks like they go anywhere from $30-$200 a pop depending on size and shape, and I’d pick one up just to experience it no matter what was on the inside! Though I’ve been saying that about storage units too and haven’t gotten off my ass to try it out yet, haha…
Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever LOST any of my bags completely from an airlines? Have you? I’ve had it missing for a few days before, and stuff stolen out of it (damn handlers!!), but never gone missing altogether. Here are some interesting facts/percentages from the U.B.C’s website (tired of typing out their full name, haha…):
- Of the hundreds of millions of passenger bags checked every year, roughly 1/2 of 1 percent are delayed and fail to meet up with their owners at the claim carousel.
- Within 24 hours, 80-90 percent of those delayed bags are delivered, and within five days, 95-98 percent of them make their way home.
- Over the course of the next 90+ days, through a comprehensive baggage tracing process conducted by the airlines, over half of the remaining bags are reunited with their owner.
So it really is a TINY percentage in the end for those poor abandoned bags, which is good to know. After checking out all this stuff it seemed like millions were being lost every day!
Anyone ever participate in these baggage auctions before? Anyone ever visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Alabama? Tell us all your stories!